Scrum challenge awaits Boks
Jannie du Plessis (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Springbok tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis says it will be a challenge to adapt to the newly introduced scrum engagement laws without having tested them ahead of the national side’s Rugby Championship opener against Argentina next Saturday.
The hit has been taken out of the scrum engagement, as front rows will have to bind before the scrum is set.
"The last game we played was with the old rules, and all of a sudden you have to adapt and that makes it a massive challenge," Du Plessis said after a training session in Fourways on Wednesday.
"Maybe it works perfectly or it is a shambles and they can it after the first few months, but we’ll know better once we’ve played with it and see how effectively we can deal with it."
Du Plessis said while the team would have to adapt to the new scrum rules, the Springboks aimed to be at their best no matter what rules were being introduced.
He said the challenge for props would be to rely heavily on power endurance and would demand a different skill set from frontrowers.
"It is going to be quite a big change, because in the past you relied on speed, where the gap between the two packs was quite big," he said.
"You are going to have to generate more power, because the packs have to be steady before the ball is put in and apparently the scrumhalves have to put in straight.
"Instead of it being a power exercise with speed, it will probably be of a strength endurance where your wattage and your energy is being sapped.
"Scrumhalves will also be required to put the ball in straight, while the new engagement law will also create and equal opportunity for hookers to hook the ball.
"If they do referee it like they say, the scrum will last longer and we’ll have to work harder," Du Plessis said.
He said the changes could have a negative impact on scrummagers, whose strong point was to hit fast and scrum hard.
"I always used to think that guys with speed can keep the scrum up, which is a skill some guys have and you are negating that skill," he said.
"Whether that is going to be a big influence on how teams scrum remains to be seen."